Five tips to ensure effective stakeholder engagement at the onset, during and at the end of a construction or infrastructure project.
Seek clear direction from client and work in collaboration to achieve effective stakeholder engagement
A robust purposeful relationship between client and contractor is an essential requirement to achieve effective stakeholder engagement. Working cohesively as a team with a common goal should yield immense success both internally, within the teams and externally with stakeholders. In some cases, the client requires the contractor to and engage with a specific set or number of stakeholders, leaving some hand chosen stakeholders to be dealt with directly by the client. It is important that this is clarified at the onset of the project.
2. Get to know who your stakeholders are
As a contractor establishing and setting up a construction site in a new area, the earlier you set out to determine who your stakeholders the better. A colleague of mine described it as “determining what you are up against”. Proactive ways to determine who your stakeholders are include; liaising with the client and having access to the project communications plan, liaising with the design team as there is a high likelihood that they may have a detailed list of stakeholders. This may however require updating. Identifying stakeholders is an ongoing process to be undertaken during the entire duration of the project.
3. Identify influential stakeholders from your stakeholder list and establish robust rules of engagement
This should be done as early on as possible or at commencement of the project, these stakeholders could include statutory agencies, regulators and key decision makers. Proactive engagement with influential stakeholders encourages collaboration. Collaboration serves well to alleviate or minimize issues that might result in delays as the project progresses. Invite yourself to their business meetings and similar events, this creates visibility and they are confident that you are keen on building a relationship with them.
4. Preempt changes to the construction/infrastructure project and be ready to work with your stakeholders to make things happen
Preempting changes, as part of the overall Change Management process is key. As soon as a change is being considered and is likely to be implemented it is equally important to consider how this will be presented to stakeholders. The rationale is to maintain the established level of trust as stakeholders sometimes may feel they have been deceived if a significant change is not relayed to them in a timely manner.
5. Readily promote the benefits of the project
A proactive way of promoting the project and gaining stakeholder buy in is to promote the benefits of the project. Benefits that might include regeneration opportunities in the area of influence, tend to be of interest to stakeholders. The tendency is that stakeholders become a lot more tolerant towards any disruption experienced as a the project progresses.